Rhine board deals with land division, use issues

by Sabrina Nucciarone
Review Correspondent

RHINE - With a full agenda for their June 5 meeting, the Town Board began actions based on the Planning Commission recommendations on two separate applications.

The first was to rezone farmhouse parcel that contains a cell tower and the second to rezone property with six lots for the possibility of building.

The application by Karen Rosenthal to rezone farmhouse property in Elkhart Lake was previously approved by the Planning Commission and the recommendation was before the board for decision. However, when addressing the board, Rosenthal indicated an additional family member has been included in decisions being made regarding the land.

The land is divided by State 57, with the cell tower on the east side, but there is a minimum acreage requirement to surround the tower for proper maintenance. Between Rosenthal and Todd Smith, a real estate professional representing the Rosenthals’ interest, it was said that much went into cleaning up the property on the east side of the highway.

Though the original request to rezone the farmhouse parcel to A4 (farm consolidation and agricultural living district) and for the tower, five acres of C2 (upland conservancy), Rosenthal said, “The family would like to keep the tower in the family.” Asking the board if they could go from keeping just over one acre where the tower sits to four acres, they would be able to have something for posterity.

While the original request listed that the farmhouse parcel would be zoned A4 and the east side C2 , Chairman Ron Platz indicated that the board has to take the size of the entire parcel into consideration and is unable to change the application as presented for approval without it first going back through the Planning Commission.

Given that the board had to act on what was presented to the Planning Commission, Rosenthal voiced disappointment that it couldn’t be corrected by the board. When she asked the board if the family would be able to present a request again to alter the zoning that meets their needs, the answer was yes - with a caveat.

“It’s always an option, but nothing is guaranteed,” Platz said. Even if the board had not approved the original request, the family would still have to return to the Planning Commission to request alterations which would have to be approved before it is presented to the Town Board again.

The second request came from Brian Biller, who owns odd-sized lots of property and wants to develop the land for possible sale as is or construct homes on speculation. Noting that those are just two of the possible options, Biller said he will take his time. “I have ideas, but nothing set in stone, no numbers crunched,” he said.

Taking his project slow, Biller brought his request to the board to make sure he is doing things the right way. With an aerial photograph with colored lines delineating the lots, Biller was able to show the board the sizes of the proposed lots (with each to have its own culvert), described the land features and Golf Course Road, the road that connects the lots.

Though there is a house on one of the lots currently, there are tenants so any decision regarding that particular residence is at least a year away. The presence of that residence doesn’t deter Biller from the development of the other five lots.

Making certain that there would be no more than one house per lot (not a minimum of one house per lot), Supervisor Frank Zimmerman commented on the road that serves the lots. “Nobody likes me because I talk about the roads. That road is not new. If there is any damage, the town won’t pay for it. It’s either you or the homeowner,” Zimby merman said, addressing Biller.

Taking note of Biller’s thoughtful planning of an area southeast of Elkhart Lake caught the attention of Supervisor Jon Rost. “That area has been neglected. 5.64 It is to the town’s advantage to have this proposed improvement,” he said.

The board voted to approve Biller’s application to rezone the property from A2 to R1 (one- or two-family residence district) for the development of individual residences.

In other land use, the board approved the certified survey map identifying Trackside Homes, the development that straddles the towns of Rhine and Plymouth, as one lot. Referring to the roads that access the development, Zimmerman took photos and Supervisor Al Feld took videos of the roads in their current condition. “The roads aren’t the best, but we’ve got to keep what we’ve got,” Zimmerman said. “I hate finding things out the hard way.”

A raze order request was approved for the Vliestra family residence on State 32 near Willow Road, which was heavily damaged in November as a result of a fire that began in the garage. Dave Miller, a claims adjuster present to explain why the raze order was requested, said that though the fire destroyed the garage, thanks to subsequent fire damage to the second floor, compromised joists above the first floor, and water damage from fighting the flames, “there was not much left to save.”

Identifying that the formula used for the cost of razing is much less than to repair, Miller referred to a Wisconsin state statute says that if it is not redeemable to repair, it has to be razed. He added that repairing whatever could be used, the cost would exceed the value of the house.

Explaining to the board in-depth details, Miller said the family has been displaced since the fire and waiting several months to move forward, wanting to rebuild their home in the same location. “My goal is to give you the facts,” Miller said.

Citing information by the insurance company, American Family, as well as a recent court case that supports the family request for a raze order, Paul Dirkse, attorney for the town, said the information was reliable to make a decision. Though the court case Miller spoke of “doesn’t compel this board to agree with that decision. With support of the case, it’s up to the board,” Dirkse said.

“If everything is copacetic, give the raze order and move forward,” Zimmerman said.

“It seems like a reasonable thing to do,” added Supervisor Bill Jacobs. Jacobs filled the supervisor position left vacant by Todd Purkey’s move to another community.

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